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HFF's Aaron Swerdlin
Our Houston reporter sat down with HFF's Aaron Swerdlin, who runs HFF's national self-storage group. He's been active, recently closing a 539-unit, 50k SF property in Houston, a 68k SF property in New Jersey, a 42k SF one in Brooklyn, and a financing of a three-property portfolio in Houston. Aaron tells us choosing the right buyer (that'll actually close) is one of the biggest challenges now—even more difficult than pricing. He says there are more institutional players (50% of sellers and 80% of buyers) than in the past.
Aaron says a small number of people do most of the deals in this sector, but he's seeing more buyers right now than ever in his 17-year self-storage career. He predicts that HFF will sell almost 40 properties this year and wouldn't be surprised if each goes to a different buyer. Aaron brought a 14 property nationwide portfolio to market in May and received 24 offers, mostly all cash. He thinks it may be the biggest deal of the year and expects it to close in August. Marketing this portfolio changed his attitude about 2010 for the better—the number of offers and tight range made him realize people are in a “do a deal mentality” and aren't as concerned with getting a bargain as they were in '09.
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